Teens struggle to find jobs

Flagstaff, AZ – Host intro:
Millions of people have lost their jobs in recent months. And many are doing work they're over qualified for. So as teens look for summer jobs, there's stiff competition. Arizona Public Radio's Laurel Morales stopped by the teen job fair in Flagstaff to bring us this report.

SFX: amby of chatter, music in the distance throughout the piece

Sixteen year old Kegan Mclarty navigates the crowd at Coconino Community College with her friend Rachel Koehn (Kane) close by her side. Mclarty says it's difficult to find a summer job right now but she's willing to volunteer.

MCLARTY: I found an application for good will um just because I love organizing clothes which is weird but (giggles) I love it. I found a volunteer tutor for the "literaracy" literacy volunteers program and I need help I think I don't think I can be a tutor (lots of giggles)

Mclarty and her friend are willing to volunteer but would rather be paid. And not all the paying jobs are very appealing.

MCLARTY: Y'know you have to know the right people in order to get a good job. There's always fast food but that's not really what everyone wants to do so.

Mclarty crinkles up her nose when she says "fast food."

Bruce Pavlikowski, who owns the three Burger Kings in Flagstaff, doesn't need Mclarty. He sifts through a tall stack of completed applications.

PAVLIKOWSKI: Probably pushing the 300 mark right now. And you have how many positions available? Not 300 (laughs). I think we're seeing more applications at this point in time than we have in a while the hiring is easier than it has been in a while that's typical with the way the economy is right now.

Seventeen year-old Will Jenney says everywhere he's looked they're out of applications. He's having better luck getting a date than a job.

JENNEY: There's a lot of people looking for not that many jobs. I've been looking since January still haven't found anything.

Jenney wears a baseball cap backwards. A few red curls escape peaking out on his forehead.

JENNEY: A lot of places I've applied to so far they're saying they're all either done by college kids or people out of college and they're just not hiring high school kids anymore.

But recent college graduate Albert Stoermer says he's not having any luck either. He's working the job fair as an unpaid intern for the county.

STOERMER: Doing things not getting paid for you know it's very frustrating extremely frustrating. I've probably sent out 75 resumes and you know what I'm pretty well qualified for a lot of these jobs. It's very discouraging when I was in high school everyone made a big deal about continuing your education so I did it and now I'm stuck in a rut

Stoermer says he knows about 20 other college graduates like himself who took unpaid internships because they couldn't find paying jobs.

Have you thought about looking for a job yourself while you're here? Actually I think I'm going to close up shop pretty quick go check things out. (laughs) Good luck.

A crowd of athletic looking boys gather around the Flagstaff Family YMCA table. Executive director Paul Giguere (jig-AIR) says he has 10 paid positions available for teens.

GIGUERE: We're seeing a lot more people with incredible skills and diplomas and looking for a summer job or a temporary job right now until they get their feet on the ground.

Some employers like Baskin Robbins, Harkins and Gore that have come to the teen job fair in years past chose not to come this year. Diedre Crawley organized the event.

CRAWLEY: They have very over qualified people applying for their jobs. They didn't even want to come and give young people hope because they have that kind of competition right now. So we were concerned when we started that we wouldn't have anyone here.

Forty employers did shop up with paid and unpaid positions. And 700 job seeking teens were there, 200 more than last year.

And there's hope for teens still looking for summer employment. The federal stimulus package provides 1 point 2 billion dollars to create summer jobs for teens and young adults.

For Arizona Public Radio I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff.